Monday, April 10, 2006

More views on Healthcare and the Third Way

It is fashionable to disdain the opinions of organized healthcare workers. In Alberta particularly, they are dismissed as selfish 'special interests' - like the special interest in devoting their lives to the health and life of their fellow citizens presumably. I would suggest that the opinions of those who are closest to the healthcare system on a day to day basis may be worth considering when you are thinking of drastically, and perhaps irreversibly, changing that system.

But what do I know?

T. S. Paulgaard reminds us of when babies died in their mother's arms on the front steps of hospitals. It's worth pointing out it was people of the same ideological stripe opposing bringing in the public system then as want to privatize it now. Even some of the names are the same.


Prairie Kid said...

There are 2 glaring problems with your post. #1 is the fact that you are talking about babies dying on the steps of hospitals years and years ago. Don't forget that at that time the average life span of a Canadian was problaly 10 years less. Second, the article is written by a left wing writer and published by a left wing news outlet namely the CBC. Even in the U.S. no babies are dying on the steps of hospitals. However, let me add that the "third way" is not a takeoff of an American system. It's just another way to ease the pressure of the public system. I like to compare it to this. The next time you go into a hospital for an overnight stay, ask for a private room. The first question you will be asked is "do you have insurance?" Now, you're still going to get the best care available, you just have to share it with 3 other people. It's the same situation when you add in private healthcare into our public system. For those who have insurance, you'll get some perks . . . for those who don't, you'll still get the best care possible. Maybe not in the nicest surroundings.

Cliff said...

Except the evidence clearly shows that the suggested Third Way changes would in fact increase the pressures on the public system not ease them.

Doctors will leave already under-served rural areas for the profits of private practice in the cities. Plus,the Australian experience shows a perverse incentive on doctors to keep wait lines long to funnel people into their more profitable private practice. And even Stephen Harper believes that the Third Way would legitimize que-jumping.

You don't get to buy faster healthcare in 'nicer surroundings' than me because you have more money than me. Ensuring that the rich have to use the same healthcare system as the rest of us ensures that the rich will never let the public system degrade too much. Allowing the elites to abandon the public sytem for cash and carry private care removes any incentive on them to maintain the public system.

Private healthcare is more expensive, less effective, more beaucratic and manifestly less fair. It's public policy in service to ideology and private profit, not the best interests of Albertans.

Not only the Left hate the Third Way - so do the Right - The Alberta Alliance ooposes it, Stephen Harper has come out in opposition to it, it probably had more than a little influence on all the rural delegates who voted against Ralph the other week and even Jim Dinning, the executive of a for profit health insurance corporation and likely next Premier of Alberta has come out against the Dual Practice and two-tier componants of the Third Way.

Look at the facts, look at the numbers, look at the examples all over the world and get past an ideological aversion to the public sector in any form to see what's really best for Albertans.

Prairie Kid said...

Cliff! You didn't respond to my comment about the present healthcare system in which a private room is a luxury. Also, you should really check the healthcare systems in the Scandanavian countries as opposed to the U.S. or Australia. You'll find that in their systems private and public systems co-exist very nicely. However, the huge advantage their systems have over ours is that theirs is pro-active system and ours is a reactive system. We do absolutely nothing to prevent sickness. They do.

Cliff said...

The National post article at you sent me after I posted your last comment to back up 'your look how good the creeping privatization works in Scandinavia' argument forgets to mention that since these changes were put through in Sweden the Swedish people tried them out and at the first opportunity swept the right wing regional governements that instituted them out of power and froze or reversed all of them.

Apparently the Swedish people were less enthusiastic about these Private practice innovations than the Canadian right wing press continues to be.

The luxury of a private room thing is a smoke screen - we are talking about fundamental, possibly irreversable structural changes to public healthcare. Changes that among other things are ILLEGAL. The Canada Health Act is the law of the land.

I suggest browsing through my other posts, they are are heavily annotated with links to where you can find the true facts and numbers about public vs private healthcare.

Prairie Kid said...

My last comment to you Cliff is this. If we keep funding our healthcare system at the rate we currently are, in 15 years we will be paying 75% income tax. People will not accept any major cuts to our current standard of life so there is no alternative but to increase income tax.

Cliff said...

The regular crisis pronouncements from the Klein government about the exploding costs of healthcare are deliberately deceptive. They are invariably based on the last ten years - a rebuilding period after the irresponsible cutbacks of the early 90's.

If you instead calcualte healthcare costs in Alberta over the last twenty years, you get a much smaller curve. If you calculate healthcare costs as a percentage of Alberta's GDP - a much more reasonable and usefull measurement - you get something closer to a flat line.

Additionally, it's the costs of the private sector componants of Alberta's healthcare system that are currently increasing at twice the rate of inflation while the public componant costs remain stable. And you think the sollution to rising costs is to increase the private componant?

Sorry to see you go prairie kid, come back any time.

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